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Nathan OakesNathan Oakes '04 is creating quite the buzz. Oakes, a PhD student at Cornell, is the cofounder of startup Combplex, which was recently recognized by LaunchPad Lift, a program that provides resources and opportunities to talented collegiate entrepreneurs. Startups recognized by LaunchPad Lift—an initiative of The Blackstone Charitable Foundation—also receive $10,000 in prize money to help them grow their businesses.

Combplex provides solutions to beekeepers’ number one problem: eliminating the parasites killing their bees. Combplex creates hardware devices—which function as electronic pesticides—that use computer vision to target a significant stressor of honey bees. It’s no secret that bees have had a difficult decade, with Colony Collapse Disorder decimating hives and putting bees on the endangered species list. Scientists have concluded that this decline in bee populations is due to obstacles like high pathogen loads, poor nutrition and habitat loss, among other factors. As the pollinators of 70 percent of global crops, bees are vital to food production around the world. In fact, as pollinators, it’s estimated that bees contribute $19 billion annually to the U.S. economy, which is why it’s so important to manage and protect bee populations.

That’s where Combplex comes in. The company’s goal is “to increase U.S. agricultural sustainability by using technological innovation and market creation to align the financial incentives of crop farmers and commercial pollinators in industrial agricultural settings, leading to a healthier, greener and more productive environment for all."

With the support of LaunchPad Lift, Combplex has the potential to change the agricultural industry forever, and Oakes credits part of that success to the education he received as a SCASD student. “I want to let people know how well SCASD prepares students to make a significant impact on the world,” Oakes said.

SCASD strives to provide a world-class education to every student, and the SCASD Education Foundation is proud to see alums making a difference in the world.